Ask the Edit: Lunch Storage Solutions

Sep 17, 2018

Bringing lunch from home is one of the best ways to save money.  It’s also a great way to improve your diet.  But transporting your meal to and fro requires the right equipment.

Hi Abra:

Can you recommend a work (Hill specifically) appropriate but still cute and functional lunch box/bag?

I originally got a small LL Bean tote to serve as a lunch bag but it was deceptively large so that didn’t quite work. Something that would fit in a normal tote and not necessitate carrying two bags on the metro, as well.

Thanks! – Jane

When I commute, I try really hard not to carry multiple bags.  It’s cumbersome.  It can make it tough to go out after work.  And being physically weighed down with cargo doesn’t help your mental health at the end of a long work day.

My favorite way to transport a single meal is in a Bento- or Tiffin-style box.  This BentoHeaven Lunch Box ($25) comes with two food compartments and a separate space for silverware.  It’s also spill-proof and leak-proof.  If you like to take hot food to work, this insulate Tiffin from Lillie is a pretty and practical option.

Just looking for a compartmentalized container?  A friend uses these glass meal prep containers.  They come in a five pack for $29, and you can put them in the oven or microwave.

If you’re trying to conserve space, Smart Planet makes a collapsible meal container with a compartments.  They also make some interesting storage devices, like this Ziploc bag alternative that expands to hold a sandwich and then, folds flat.

Looking for a lunch ‘bag’ specifically?  I prefer an insulated bag since refrigeration isn’t always a guarantee.  And I like canvas lunch bags because you can roll them up when they’re empty.

This Homespon lunch bag ($14) comes  in several lovely geometric patterns.  I also like this Colony waxed canvas bag and this cotton Grub bag.

A pregnant friend who needs to carry lunch and snacks swears by these MazForce insulated bags.  They have some structure to them, and they come in different sizes to accommodate different needs.

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  1. Crystal says:

    I’ve tried to reduce my plastic usage, but I *love* this line of containers for lunch. Rubbermaid sells a lot of sizes (individually and in sets); they’re sturdy, nestable (a requirement), and can go in the freezer, microwave, and dishwasher; and they don’t leak. Highly recommended for packing your lunch.
    https://www.amazon.com/Rubbermaid-Brilliance-Leak-Proof-Microwavable-Container/dp/B01MRGR74J

  2. Anna says:

    I tossed all my plastic containers and switched to the Pyrex snapware containers. They’re leak proof and stackable. They can also go in the oven (sans lid) I was getting super paranoid about microwaving plastic, so I at least feel a little better about these, plus they don’t retain smells.

  3. Leigh says:

    I just started commuting by Metro, and had the same problem. What I did was buy a diaper bag, of all things. It looks like a plain messenger bag, but it has an insulated compartment (intended for a bottle or two) that fits the parts of my lunch that need to be kept cold.

  4. Jill says:

    I had the most ingenious sandwich wrapper that was coated plastic and closed around the sandwich with Velcro. It made a little placemat when open. Easy to clean. Can’t find it, need to replace it.

  5. Seventh sister says:

    I use an inexpensive bento box from the Japanese market most days, though I also have some of that Rubbermaid Lunchblox stuff.

    Another thing that has been pretty handy are inexpensive bandanas from the Japanese market (furoshiki) which allow me to just tie everything up into a bundle and stick in my work tote. They were less than $2/piece at the store.

    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Japanese-style-wrapping-cloth-furoshiki-many-designs-handkerchiefs-Flower-S0610F-polyester/32814885740.html?spm=2114.search0302.3.76.c7b169c11SvDmE&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_0_10084_100031_10083_10130_10547_451_10546_452_10307_10548_531_10618_315_10065_10068_10059_10103_10696_10545,searchweb201603_0,ppcSwitch_0&algo_pvid=47ef0628-3133-4967-9d7c-27b82e633d8f&algo_expid=47ef0628-3133-4967-9d7c-27b82e633d8f-10

    • Jo says:

      My issue is oftentimes that I am going out after work and don’t want to carry a big tote with my lunch bag. Target makes like a $5 insulated bag that you can then roll up and put in your purse.

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